Bobrovsky Forsling Reinhart celebrate SCF Game 3 win 61324

EDMONTON -- The Florida Panthers are one win from the Stanley Cup, and they’re all business. Each player said essentially the same thing after defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place on Thursday and taking a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

“The job’s not finished,” forward Sam Bennett said. “We’re not really thinking about that. Our whole mindset right now is recovering and getting prepared for the next game. I don’t think anyone can really look ahead. It’s still, we’ve got a lot of work to do. That’s our focus right now.”

It’s not an act. It’s how they reached this point, and it’s how they will approach Game 4 here Saturday (8 p.m. ET; CBC, TVAS, SN, ESPN+, ABC).

“Every team’s got its own personality, and I can say this,” coach Paul Maurice said. “I think you all have faith in the fact that I’ve said it before. This is a different group, and they have been serious since training camp. They’ve been focused and even-keeled over the course of the year.”

This really goes back to last season. The Panthers hired Maurice to instill a style more suited to the playoffs. After a hot second half of the regular season and an epic run through the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they were beaten up, and they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the Cup Final.

They came to camp this season with a sense of confidence, knowing they had what it took to win if they played the right way, stayed healthy and got some breaks. Though they’re rolling on a six-game winning streak now, it’s because they’re continuing to do what they do.

“They’re not a whole a lot different today than they were three weeks ago,” Maurice said. “They’ve had a pretty good program. The players have been running that room for the year. From training camp, they’ve been running that room. I mean, I pop in every once in a while. I’ll say hello.”

If there was a time for Florida to falter, this was it.

The Panthers had a three-hour, 21-minute weather delay and five-hour, 44-minute charter flight to Edmonton, traveling 2,583 miles and arriving at 8:05 p.m. MT on Wednesday, about 22 hours before face-off.

They were greeted by an incredible, emotional scene. This was the first Cup Final game in Edmonton since 2006 and first in Canada with a full house since the Vancouver Canucks played Game 7 against the Boston Bruins in 2011. (The Montreal Canadiens had limited attendance due to COVID-19 when they hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2021.) The fans sang “O Canada” loud and proud.

But the Panthers relished it. This is a team that played the Lightning, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers in the first three rounds and went 6-2 on the road.

“It was awesome,” forward Evan Rodrigues said. “I had a big smile on my face during the anthem, just listening to it. It’s a cool tradition that they have. You’ve got to embrace the moment. I think we’re doing a really good job of that.”


“It’s always so much fun playing in these games,” forward Carter Verhaeghe said. “I mean, our team loves it, going into enemy territory and kind of just grinding, I think. It’s kind of suited us.”

NHL Tonight breaks down Game 3 of the SCF

The story of the game was the story of the series, the story of season. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made big saves, finishing with 32. His teammates played strong defense, forced mistakes and capitalized. They took a 4-1 lead in the second period and held on in the third.

The Oilers have scored four goals in three games, and none have come from their big guys: forwards Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman.

“I think it comes down to every single guy buying into it,” Bennett said. “Every single guy is committed to playing that defense first and that system of coming back supporting each other, and that’s what you need to have success. It’s really been just a full commitment from the entire group.”

Center Aleksander Barkov, the captain, would not talk about the Cup after the game.

“Obviously, it’s there for us, but you don’t think about it,” he said. “You can’t think about it. All we have to do is just take, like, one moment at a time. Right now, we’ve got to enjoy this win. We know we battled really hard today, and we had a good win. Now we just enjoy this. Tomorrow we need to recover and get ready for the game. That’s about it. We never think too much ahead.”

Maurice wouldn’t think past his pillow.

“I’m looking forward to going to bed, so I’m going to keep my focus on that, enjoy the heck of it,” he said. “[If I’m] fortunate enough to wake up, I’ve got a plan for a tomorrow, and then I’m not looking anywhere past that.”

Wonder what he’ll dream about.

Related Content